I actually saw one of my patients in the subway today. Walking around, carrying a grocery bag, getting a fare card like everyone else.
Never, ever, did I think that I'd see one of my patients in public. I guess everyone is just far too sick, unconscious and without much chance for recovery, that I never really pictured them in a normal life. Granted, some go home and I'm sure do some of the same things that I do, this was just the first time that became real to me.
It was a really unique feeling that came over me when I saw him. I can only describe it as the way you feel when someone you really respect gives you spontaneous praise.
I didn't say anything to him, or anyone else. I just sat on the bench, waiting for the train, marveling at the fact that - despite how long or short it might last - I helped get him back to the life he leads everyday.
And, if that's not a good enough reason to be a nurse...well, don't become one.